Form of the Simple Present Tense


We add -s or -es to the base form of the verb in the third person singular.

I work >
You work >
He works >
She works >
It works > in an office.

We work >
You work >
They work >

Uses of the Simple Present Tense

Permanent truths

We use the Simple Present for statements that are always true:

  • Summer follows spring. Gases expand when heated.

'The present period'

We use the Simple Present to refer to events, actions or situations which are true in the present period of time and which, for all we know, may continue indefinitely. What we are saying, in effect, is 'this is the situation as it stands at present':

  • My father works in a bank. My sister wears glasses.

Habitual actions

The Simple Present can be used with or without an adverb of time to describe habitual actions, things that happen repeatedly:

  • I get up at 7. John smokes a lot.

We can be more precise about habitual actions by using the Simple Present with adverbs of indefinite frequency (always, never, etc.) or with adverbial phrases such as every day:

  • I sometimes stay up till midnight.

  • She visits her parents every day.

We commonly use the Simple Present to ask and answer questions which begin with How often?:

  • How often do you go to the dentist? - I go every six months.

Questions relating to habit can be asked with ever and answered with never:

  • Do you ever eat meat? - No, I never eat meat.


Future reference

This use is often related to timetables and programmes or to events in the calendar:

  • The exhibition opens on January 1st and closes on January 31st.

  • The concert begins at 7.30 and ends at 9.30.

  • We leave tomorrow at 11.15 and arrive at 17.50.

  • Wednesday, May 24th marks our 25th wedding anniversary.


Observations and declarations

We commonly use the Simple Present with stative and other verbs to make observations and declarations in the course of conversation: e.g.

  • I hope/assume/suppose/promise everything will be all right.

  • I bet you were nervous just before your driving test.

  • It says here that the police expect more trouble in the city.

  • I declare this exhibition open.

  • I see/hear there are roadworks in the street again.

  • I love you. I hate him.

  • We live in difficult times. - I agree.


Simple Present Tense in adverbial clauses of time: 'no future after temporals'

When the time clause refers to the future, we normally use the simple present after after, as soon as, before, by the time, directly, immediately, the moment, till, until and when where we might expect a Simple Future.

  • The Owens will move to a new flat when their baby is born.

  • I will go to the cinema after I finish my homework.

  • You will get the dessert as soon as you finish your dinner.